One of the famous painters in the world’s history is Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) a Spanish Romantic painter come a printmaker. Famously known as Goya, he is famously considered by many as the last master of the old generation of painters and also the master of the modern generation of painters. Francisco Goya started by painting decorative and then later became a professional portrait artist. It was not until he entered into apprenticeship with another painter by the name Francisco Bayeu y Subias that his works began to show signs of delicate tonation making him famous.  Goya provided the model for the later artists of the modern generation, notably Picasso and Manet through his rare skills and imaginative element in painting. Goya is famous for many famous paintings such as that of the royalties, including King Carlos III, Charles III, and Charles IV among others.

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His portraits are notable for lack of fretter. Taking an example of Charles IV and his family, the absence of visual diplomacy is clearly remarkable. In fact modern interpreters have viewed this portrait as being satire. It is seen to reveal the corruption existing during Charles IV era. During his reign his wife was seen to be the center of power thus she is placed at center of the portrait. From the background the painter himself can be seen looking at the viewer. The painting behind the family shows lot and his daughters which is thought to echo the hidden message of mass corruption and moral decay. Also another example is that of ‘The nude Maja’ (La maja desnuda) and ‘The clothed Maja’ (La maja vestida).This showed two similar woman in a similar pose, one clothed and the other clothed (Licht).

Mid period

One of Goya’s greatest painting work is that of the Darker Realms which he did between 1793- 1794. During this period Francisco Goya did a set of eleven pictures which were painted on a tin. The pictures which were referred to as ‘Fantasy and Invention’ showed a significant deviation from his previous arts. These paintings ceased to represent the world of carnivals, but instead a dark realm of nightmare and fantasy. A courtyard which consists of idiots and lunatics depicts a horrifying and an imaginary world of fear, loneliness and social alienation. This differs from the more superficial mental illness treatment in the arts of the older generation artists such as Hogarth (Licht).

In Goya’s painting, the ground consists of masonry blocks and an iron gate which was occupied by patients and a warden. The patients are shown posturing, sitting, variously staring, wrestling or grimacing. The pictures top vanishes in unison with sunlight, thus revealing the nightmarish scene beneath. The picture is an indictment of widespread treatment of the insane, who were jailed with the criminals, confined in iron manacles and also were physically punished. This picture was intended to push for reforms in the asylums and prisons, a subject which was common in Voltaire’s writings and other writers. Goya continued to condemn brutality towards prisoners in many of his later paintings.

At the time of carrying out his paintings, Goya was himself physically and mentally unstable and continued to worsen by time .It was at the time after the French declared war on the Spain.  A conterpreter reported that the noises in his head and deafness were only getting worse, yet his vision was much better. His symptoms may have indicated viral encephalitis or a series of strokes due to high blood pressure which hampered with the balance centers found in the brain. From the above cases, an assault to his faculties, this manifested in Goya’s paintings as paranoid features, culminating in Goya’s black paintings especially that of Saturn eating his sons.


In 1799 he published 80 prints called Caprichos which depicted “the innumerable follies and foibles found in any civilized society and from the common deceitful and prejudice practices with ignorance, custom or self-interest have made usual.” In 3rd May 1808: ‘The execution of the defenders of Madrid’, Goya tried (Ciofalo) (Licht)to perpetuate by his brush the most notable actions of our insurrection against the European Tyrants. The painting was meant as an abstract commentary rather than a witnessed incident by Goya (Ciofalo).

‘Black Paintings’ and death of Goya

In his later life Goya painted many unusual paintings on walls as well as on canvas, including references to wars and witches. One of the most famous is that of ‘Saturn Devouring His Son’ (also known informally as Saturn Eats His Child), which shows a ‘Greco-Roman mytholodical scene of Saturn eating a child, possibly referencing Spain’s continuing civil conflicts. Also, the works are seen as “the most important to our modern times understanding, just as ‘Michelangelo’s Sistine ceiliong is important to understanding the 16th century tenure”. This is among his 14 paintings called ‘Black Paintings’. After Goya’s death his wall paintings were moved to canvas and remain the best examples of his later paintings, when deafened and half-maddened by what was thought to be encephalitis (Ciofalo).

He decided to stop painting the structures of that time and instead painted whatever vision came to his mind. Many of his woks can be found in Prado museum located in Madrid. In around 1810s, Goya created aquatint prints titled “The disaster of war (Los disasters de la guerra) which showed scenes of the Peninsular War. They are disturbing, macabre in their in their battlefield horror depiction. Goya’s main objective was to express his views on the community at the time and show his areas of discontentment such as in leadership. Through his paintings he was thus able to spearhead changes in leadership and also in the treatment of prisoners.

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